IPL 2018: KXIP hurdle for under-pressure RCB

Royal Challengers Bangalore enters another must-win scenario when it faces Kings XI Punjab at the Holkar Stadium on Monday.

Do-or-die: Virat Kohli's men need to win all their remaining league matches to stay afloat.   -  AFP

It is not time yet to press the panic button, but Kings XI Punjab could be feeling a bit edgy going into Monday’s Indian Premier League match against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at the Holkar Cricket Stadium on Monday.

As for RCB, the panic mode remains switched on. It has been so for a while for Virat Kohli’s men. They are placed second from the bottom, but still could afford to dream of a place in the playoffs, provided they win all their remaining three games.

 

The host, on the other hand, is third in the table and remains one of the favourites to move into the knock-out stage. R. Ashwin’s men will be keen to recapture their form in the opening half of the league though, when they had posted four wins on the trot. They lost both of their last matches convincingly enough.

Prolific openers

They are, however, more than capable of reversing the trend. Especially when they have someone like K. L. Rahul batting in sublime form, having scored 537 runs. The Karnataka batsman and his opening partner Chris Gayle have scored 869 runs between them, that is 48.66 per cent of KXIP’s total; it should be noted that the Jamaican giant didn’t feature in three games. Some runs from the middle-order are unlikely to hurt the Punjab team.

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Though they gave away a record 245 runs to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Saturday, the bowlers, led by the purple-cap wearing pacer Andrew Tye and spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, have served the side fairly well in the tournament. KXIP’s supporters must have been relieved to see Mujeeb walk back to his bowling mark on Saturday after being hit on his hand by the rampaging KKR opener Sunil Narine early on in the innings.

Run-fest likely

On Monday, the home bowlers would be up against an even classier batting line-up that includes Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers — fresh from their match-winning 118 stand against Delhi Daredevils — besides Quinton de Kock. As for wickets, RCB could be looking up to seamer Umesh Yadav and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal once again.

 

Not that the bowlers have much to look forward to from a wicket that produced 459 runs in the last match. The smaller boundaries add to their woes.

In what is the last home match for the KXIP, the fans could expect some quality strokeplay. It is not every night that one could get to see Kohli, de Villiers, Rahul and Gayle bat during the course of four hours.

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